Had the table reading of the script with the full cast. Everyone was truly brilliant. Weird hearing and seeing characters you've lived with for years come to life.
First day of shooting. Weather held for us, the cloud cover making the lighting easier. Everyone on set was amazing, dedicated and very cool. I'm awed by the amount of time, energy, and effort it takes to produce one minute of film. Full respect for everyone involved in making this a reality.
The singular for paparazzi is paparazzo. One guy had some balls, getting right up in everyone's grill while they were shooting. True, the guy is just earning a living, but he was pure cliche--aggressive, nasty, slimy. Still, the day's shoot came off well. Real well, in fact. Still glowing with how solidly things are coming together.
Day four of the shoot. My wife is an extra today. 5.30 a.m. call time. Meaning she (and I) were up at 4 a.m. Sadly, I'm always up at 4 a.m. Two great scenes today. 7 a.m. she texts from the shoot, "Sleepy," then "Just missed my cue."
Sound stage out in Queens. The scene: Battle with the Skunks. Roman candles, paint ball guns. Mayhem. A raw space in a huge building. Dusty as anything. Shot three scenes, one which had everyone choking back laughter. Long day but everyone brought tight, powerful performances.
Day off. Daily News ran a photo and shout-out about MCH and Lucy Liu.
Night shoot. Closed set the first part then a scene on Indian Row. Shooting got rolling around midnight. I got to bed about the same time. Didn't make it downtown.
Another night shoot. Exterior. Bar next door was grilling hotdogs out front. A crowd of drunk Australians watching soccer. Rain held off until it stopped holding off. Got one take in and then it started pissing. Then four fire engines wailing to a stop out front of the shoot. Someone didn't like the smell of the hotdogs grilling, called 911 about a "fire." We got the majority of exterior shots then moved inside the bar. The shoot ran until 5 a.m. (Or so I'm told). I took off at 2 a.m., grabbed a cab with my filmmaker friend Dan Gildark who's visiting from Seattle. We got the worst cabbie in NYC. Took us south when we wanted to go north. Couldn't find his way onto the FDR. I had to backseat drive, telling him where to turn. Got home around 2.30 a.m. Found out the NY Times ran a piece about film in Monday's business section. They called E5B a romance. Not the label I'd have used, but sure, why not?
Day 3 in the story is shot before Day 1. Black eye before the fight has even happened. Break-ups before first kisses. It's an interesting process seeing a film coming together. Scenes shot out of sequence, all to be stitched together later in the editing process. The orchestration is impressive, keeping it all together.
Wind has an interesting way of ripping through the warmest of clothing. On the calendar, it's spring. Outside last night, it definitely wasn't. On a rooftop overlooking the East Village last night. Use to hang out on the rooftop at our place on 3rd and on 5th. The skyline had shifted since I last saw it. New buildings. 1 to 2 million dollar condos next to shitty walk-ups.
The scene shot last night was with Jetski and Morris on the roof of the construction site (the police precinct in the novel) just prior to their storming it. I was woefully underdressed, only hung out for a few takes. Really good stuff, though.
A couple days off. Rest. Then a full day on Friday. I had a cameo, or I guess the proper term is I was "background." A monster scene, long with five characters--Morris, Jetski, Andrea, Stefani, and George--in play. In the book, the scene takes place at a festival. Here we did it out front of Velvet Cigar bar, the place Michael Knowles met. Call time 5.30 a.m. Waking wasn't the hard part. Getting downtown at that hour was. Trains suck that early.
At that hour in the East Village, the people ending their night cross paths with people starting their day. It's an interesting mix.
I felt bad for the residents of East 7th Street. Smurfs, the movie, is filming right there as well. All night. Huge lights. Cranes. A three story tree.
And then we show up first thing in the morning just as Smurfs ends.
Friday was beautiful. Our filming went well. Everyone hit their lines. We zipped through the scene. Did have one problem, though. A Chinese woman with a Fisher-Price toy bullhorn marched into the middle of the set during a take and screamed that we were ruining her business, ruining the neighborhood. "Leave!" she demanded. "Leave now!"
Everyone stood around a moment, looking at her, looking at each other, but saying nothing.
She shouted "Thank you" and left.
Funny thing was, she didn't even live or work on the block being "ruined."
Big day. The focus group scene. Shot it here at my job's office, Monaco Lange. Twenty plus people in a space that typically holds six. Rhea Perlman came from the West Coast and cracked it hard. The sound guy kept motioning for everything to stop laughing aloud; we were ruining the audio on scene.
Made another walk-through cameo. That's two for me now. We'll see if any make it to final cut.
People magazine ran a photo of the Lucy and Michael on 7th Street. Very exciting.
Witnessed a hit-and-run. Just damage to a car. No one hurt, thankfully. The escaping driver pulled a James Bond in his white mini-van. Cut across oncoming traffic, jumped the curb into Cooper Square park, U-turned, then slide south for a getaway back to New Jersey.
Tomorrow I ride my new bike.
Beautiful day. High of 70. I break out my new cruiser with balloon tires and back pedal brake and head to the set. All interiors now. The Bliss apartment. The location is in Harlem, just off Riverside Dr. It was a leisurely ride, an easy forty blocks--because mostly of it was downhill. I'd pay coming home.
Lucio, the set designer, did an amazing job on the place. It felt like someone had lived there for decades. Morris' room had the feel of trapped time. A bit sad, really, which was perfect. I offered to boil some cabbage to add that foul, old-person smell to the place.
In Morris' room, I sneaked a copy of E5B onto the book shelf. It'll be interesting to see if the camera picks it up.
Yesterday both the Lucy and Scott finished up. I've been saying it too often, but it doesn't make it any less true: everyone was spot-on. Perfect. The scene was great. Both touching and funny.
The ride back home wiped me out. Feeling sore in muscles in didn't know I had.
It took 18 months to write the novel. Some 1600 pages written to get to the 220 that were published. One year to find a publisher. Twenty months after the signed contract for the book to hit the stores. Five months for Michael Knowles and I to hash out the screenplay. A solid two years to get everything in place for the film to start. And now we're down to the last four days of shooting.
Elating and sad to see it all come together.
Lucy was on Regis and Kelly this morning. Gave E5B a nice shout out.
Met Peter Fonda today. Personable, funny guy. A perfect Seymour. His voice, looks, chuckle, even his sighs convey emotion beyond the immediate. He and MCH create amazing father-son tension.
There are a couple lines in the script and book--"womanhoodliness" and "smart-assish"--that got solid laughs out of everyone, especially since they're difficult to get out without tripping over the words.
Down to one more day of shooting. Wrap party tomorrow.
Supposed to thunderstorm Friday. Still plan on riding the bike.
Last day of the shoot. Thunderstorms crept by. Important scene between Morris and his father. Came off really well. Peter kept slipping "Far out" into his lines. The shoot wrapped around 7:30. The drinks were broken out.
This is my first film. It had the great fortune of a stellar crew and a brilliant cast. Everyone worked so well together and the whole thing came together so quickly. They cut three days from the shooting schedule, which is huge. 21 days. A feature film.
Now it's time to cut the piece together.
Wrap party. A cook-out. Beer, wine, whiskey. A beautiful day.
Everyone's moving on, lining up their next projects. One of the crew is heading to Miami to PA on the Jersey Shore. Three others are jumping aboard a horror movie that's already started. A thriller, a BMW commercial, a documentary on second-hand clothing, a photo shoot.
I have to admit that I've been enveloped with a thick, heavy feeling for the last couple days. It's like being the last person on campus at the end of the semester, after the finals are over and everyone's gone home. There is a longing to stay, but there's nothing to stay for.
The filming is over.
Back to the writing. Back to the blank page.